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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 16, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST

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i'm lester holt in haiti, where a tense and desperate nation is rattled again. tonight, search-and-rescue teams exhausted are still digging for signs of life, and the help so badly need here is starting to get to those in need. good evening. four days after the earthquake disaster, this remains an unsettled and dangerous place. today there were more aftershocks.
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they came every few hours, and each time they would send people scurrying to the middle of the street. a practice maneuver now as people still leery of going inside building for fear of more earthquakes. with as many as 200,000 people feared dead, the united nations today called this disaster historic, saying it may be the worst they have ever handled. also, u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton touched down here today as well to see devastation for herself. we can also tell you that three presidents, president obama, bush and clion met today to map out the future of fund-raising and to bring help in a massive fund-raising effort for the people of haiti. we'll get to all of that as we continue here tonight. but we want to talk first about a new phase in the relief operation here, a dangerous one, because people here are simply running out of patience. >> who is here to help us already? we can't do nothing! >> reporter: now four days into the disaster, a cruel disconnect is emerging between scenes like
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this, food arriving by the planeload, and what people are not seeing in hard-hit neighborhoods just a few miles away. shock and grief are now exploding into anger. spontaneous riots erupted on the streets today. government buildings burned and there was even gunfire. officials tonight are warning food convoys to increase their security as hunger and thirst take a mounting toll. >> they go into the shops and steal food. they hustle it and sell it black market. >> reporter: the u.s. and united nations are working to set up food and water distribution sites, but there are still many challenges. one u.n. official said the scene here is worse than the aftermath of a 2004 indonesian earthquake because there were at least local officials there to coordinate with. here the government is literally and figuratively in shambles. only half of port-au-prince's police force is on the street.
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the haitian people know a little something about resiliency. they knew it before the earthquake and they certainly know it now, as they have re-established a sense of community now beneath tents, instead of their homes, now destroyed. but they still need water, food and even medical care. this woman has a hurt leg. she can't walk because she hasn't received any care. there were also more aftershocks today. sending these jittery residents who were tapping a source of water briefly scrambling. also today bulldozers began attacking the massive debris, even when they couldn't tell if anyone was in it. and adding to the general weariness here are the dead left on the streets, or decomposing in the ruins of their homes. >> two stories collapsed. there are several people inside. under it. >> reporter: you can smell them? >> yes. >> reporter: those bodies are this woman's four children. >> she wants to bury her children? >> yes. >> reporter: but admit the death, life here continues to renew itself. we found this woman nursing her
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new son, born last wednesday in this makeshift encampment, the day after the earthquake. he and his family together starting from scratch. people are still trying to live their lives any way they can. if you are watching the broadcast last night, you saw kerry sanders profile the heroic efforts find survivors beneath the collapse of a supermarket. and kerry is with us again tonight with an encouraging update to that story. kerry? >> reporter: lester, at that supermarket it is a slow-motion race. joined the search teams on their moment-by-moment at times bare-hand dig for survivors. 8:53 a.m., a search team from turkey gingerly looks for an entry point. at minimum, they try to create an air hole for the living. it was the height of the shopping day when the five-story supermarket collapsed. inside teams say, there are
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signs of life. >> i nev give up hope. >> reporter: his sister-in-law was inside. he's held vigil here since the quake. he's weary but optimistic mirel is still alive. >> i know she's a fighter. she will fight. >> reporter: 9:15 a.m., a american team joins the turks. >> if they're not there, you go somewhere else. >> reporter: with the help of blueprints, they build the structure backwards to see where air pockets trapped survivors. from the raf, rescuerses slither on their stoms five feet to another hole, drop down and create another hole. >> me and the other brothers worked for about 2 1/2 hours to get through about 12 inches of concrete. >> reporter: it's slow, claustrophobic work in the dark. >> it's a little nerve-racking just to know if there's any tremors or anything, things can change very quickly. >> reporter: 10:07 a.m., the american team says they can absolutely confirm two are still
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alived. they talked to a 17-year-old girl who says she is with a boy. >> they're telling us right now they're not hurt, they're not injured, they're just thirsty. >> reporter: and that fear of tremor comes true. at 10:59 a.m. for 11 terrifying seconds, the ground shakes. >> keep going. away from the pile. >> reporter: 17 seconds later, a frantic phone call. cell phone signa penetrate the pancake debris and text messages are relayed to the command post. >> there's a bunch of people in the isle with him. they're fine. >> reporter: there's how many people alive? >> he said more than 60? >> reporter: 60? >> yes. >> reporter: for five hours the american and turks dead while they anxiously await for news of their mother. finally water teams arrive. this rescue effort is now a symbol of haiti's hope. they're still digging at this hour.
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they expect to continue digging tomorrow axtz for that area where those 60 people may be trapped in that void, they tried to phone back to the phone, nobody answered. they could not get through. it is a horribly anxious night for family members on the outside waiting for news and, of course, for those on the inside desperate. >> these are true heroes, these people who do this work. kerry sanders, thanks very much. we note thad secretary of state hillary clinton touched down in haiti today to see the devastation for herself. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has been traveling with the secretary. a andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. hillary clinton said she came here to listen. she came on a cargo plane, coast guard cargo plane, krying 650 pounds of water and military rations for the haitian people. and as she said, she wanted to listen. today she heard a lot. her mission to help unclog bottlenecks in the relief pipeline, to find out what haiti's government needs most and how to get it to them. meeting first with hattie's
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president rene preval. >> i want to assure the people of haiti that the united states is a friend, a partner and a supporter. and we will work with your government under the direction of president preval to assist in every way we can. >> reporter: in the maze of fferent governments and aid agencies here, clinton says there are some things the united states does best she says they are literally taking a google map to identify 14 distribution points for water and food, and flying in water filtration equipment from all over the world. in an interview with nbc news, she challenged reports that vital aid is sitting at the airport, not getting out. there is a perception and there have been kmrints, reports, of bottlenecks, a lot of aim coming in but not getting out to the people who need it. >> that's just not true. there's aid coming in and getting out. there's just not enough of it yet because we don't have yet
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the kind of distribution networks or the port open. so everything you see is coming in by air and the airport has one runway. >> reporter: clinton said her first question this week was why not parachute food to the starving people of port-au-prince. the government said that would not work in an urban area. it would start riots. and thousands of dollars of soap, toilet paper and even unwear. with an empty cargo plane going back, the secretary of state is taking american evacuees out with her. they have been lined up at the airport desperatto get home. >> our structure held up nicely but most didn't, so we drove three hours here this morning. >> reporter: clinton said for her, this is really personal. she reacted emotionally to seeing all of this today. she came here on her honeymoon and has been comin back ever since and working very hard on haiti, as has her husband in the last year. there's a lot of work to be
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done, obviously. >> andrea mitchell, thank you very much. we should note her husband, bill clinton, was among the three u.s. presidents at the white house today. george w. bush and, of course, president obama, to map out how they will encourage americans to donate to the relief effort here in the haiti. as you know, president obama tapped the two former presidents to help in that effort. and they talked about not only how to use that money but to spend it wisely. >> good morning, everybody. by coming together in this way, these two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of haiti and to the people of the world. in theseifficult hours, america stands united. we stand united with the people of haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience, and we will help them to recover and to rebuild. >> i know a lot of people want to send blankets or water. just send your cash. one of the things that the president and i will do is make sure your money is spent wisely. >> and a program note, david gregory will have much more with former presidents clinton and
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bush on tomorrow's edition of "meet the press" here on nbc. we have talked earlier in the broadcast about those who have not yet received the help that continues to pour into this airport. but we saw an example of those who did. it was at a camp for displaced victims. michelle kosinski was there as it happened. michelle? >> reporter: lester, we saw some of that. what we saw today was a makeshift camp in a park that had swelled to thousands of people. but then we saw how quickly coping peacefully can turn to chaos. hundreds of people line a hastily arranged barrier of chairs. at a u.s. army installation at a port-au-prince country club. they know there are no supplies yet, but they wait for more than 12 hours. >> now i'm getting thirsty. >> reporter: jean baptist has no home either and led us just down the hill to the newest neighborhood in this devastated capital, a sprawling camp where thousands live beneath sheets, trying to survive.
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>> just to see their faces, the they're anxious, they're tired, they're hungry. >> reporter: many are injured. a woman whose home collapsed, a little boy. they cook what they could carry here. they eat with water that is undrinkable. happiness is any shred of normalcy or peace. this tent has set up a sort of store. >> they're trading, they're trading, and some medical stuff like aspirin. >> reporter: but many have little-to-no food. these women say they will walk three hours to where they think they can find water. for the most part, things are orderly and calm and generous until there's a drop of supplies. then suddenly a chopper appears to toss down maybe two dozen boxes of meals and the race from every corner of this camp begins. >> it is the baddest way to do it. they cannot stay from high and
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drop food for people. >> reporter: within minutes, most are winded and empty-handed. this man insists he will share as others scream he had better. but some with the precious boxes are less willing and humanitarian gesture becomes a fight. it's for everyone, says a man who has none. but for a few moments, survival was all that mattered. we couldn't immediately determine what organization had done that food drop but the army here tellss that is exactly what they don't want to see haen. and in fact the 82nd airborne, which is right behind us, those are the ones that are set up right boov that camp, said they're working on plans to distribute aid fairly, which is vital. >> michelle kosinski. thank you. we have not moved but other location is changing as the military continues to put down roots here, adding more and more permanent structure, as this
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operation continues to ramp up. again, thank you for your reporting. we will continue our reporting from port-au-prince on the disaster here, including the fate of american families at home waiting to hear on word about their children. when we come back. y club. that's when i'd had it with heartburn. the guy was hilarious. but i was in pain, so i stepped out. (comedia hey, are you walkin' out on me-- is it past your curfew? i will never make that mistake again. that's when i'd had it with frequent heartburn. and that's when i got prevacid®24hr... and my sense of humor back. (announcer) the #1 prescribed acid reducer brand over the last decade is now over-the-counter to treat frequent heartburn a full 24 hours. prevacid®24hr. when you've had it with heartburn™ caused by a completely blocked artery, another heart attack could be lurking, waiting to strike. a heart attack caused by a clot, one that could be fatal. but plavix helps save lives. plavix taken with other heart medicines, goes beyond what other heart medicines do alone, to provide greater protection against heart attack
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♪ just some of the images here from port-au-prince, where we are back now with a story of six people missing from florida's lynn university two students, two faculty members and four students. today the father of one of those students made a wrenching appeal to president obama. we get more on that story now from nbc's mark potter. >> reporter: as rescue workers continue to search through the rubble at the hotel mtana for the four missing students and two faculty members, the father of one of those students, 19-year-old brittany gingell of rutland, massachusetts, made an anguished plea for help. >> we are praying that our daughter, brittany, be one of the rescued today and be brought home safe and sound. and i'm pleading -- i'm pleading to president obama to please, please, please send more people to haiti to rescue. as a father, president obama,
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you must feel our pain in what we're going through. >> reporter: two days ago, he and the parents of two other missing students were told their daughters had been found, but it was a false report. university officials say rescuers are working around the clock to find the missing, amid reports that voices may have been heard beneath the hotel rubble. others are canvassing hospitals and airports in the dominican republico see if any of the students or faculty had been taken there. at the university today, six of the rescued students talked about their missing friends and teachers. >> we are pretty much 95% sure that they were all inside the building. the hotel. >> reporter: scoot official sc say they are following reports of anyone who has been rescued as they and anguished families wait for word on whether their loved ones are also safe. mark potter, nbc news, miami. we are going to take a short break and then be back with a story of inside one of the few
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hospitals still operating here in port-au-prince. we'll be back. st: could switching to geico really save you ♪ too long to say goodnight? mom: g'night john boy. g'night mary ellen. mary ellen: g'night mama. g'night erin. elizabeth: g'night john boy. jim bob: g'night grandpa. elizabeth: g'night ben. jim bob: elizabeth: g'night jim bob. jim bob: g'night everybody, grandpa: g'night everybody. jim bob: g'night daddy. vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more. i have a question about these clams. the taste is amazing. clam transfer. clams. are these really fresh-caught clams inour new england clam chowder? we take what the ocean offers, be it clams, camaraderie or heartache. wait, what? i think that was a yes. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. where's my car?!!!! where are you?! arghhh... (announcer) dr. scholl's massaging gel insoles give you outrageous comfort, all-day-guaranteed.
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♪ welcome back to port-au-prince. even before the earthquake,his city had a woeful shortage of health care centers and hospitals. and now severely injured people are being treated in some of the most primitive conditions you might imagine. tonight, nbc's chief science correspondent robert bazell takes us behind the gates to the city's main hospital.
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>> reporter: hundreds of critically injured patients and their families have been waiting outside port-au-prince general, the city's largest hospital. seven out of ten buildings here were destroyed. there is no electricity, few staff and little supplies. this man's daughter was crushed to death in their five-story apartment. but he managed to bring in his niece, seme, who has multiple severe injuries and still waits in the 95-degree sun. he says her infections are getting worse quickly. today some care began as some staff and volunteers arrived. this woman was cooking dinner when the quake struck and boiling water spilled on her 2-year-old son tyson. a nurse technician put baum on the burns. tonight partners in helt arrived and in the dark they triaged the patients to determine who should get care first, li this woman. >> she has an infected traumatic april paw tigs.
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in other words, her foot was cut off during the earthquake, so it's a priority for us. we have to control that infection. the only way to do this is to reamputate her at a higher level. >> reporter: the doctors are operating without electricity. there's no time to spare. >> five days of open wounds, their all contaminated. >> reporter: what will the future hold for those patients that survive? ernest benjamin, a haitian by birth, works at mt. sinai hospital in new york. you will try to get prosthesis if you can? >> if we can. that will be later on. right you now if the person lives without the pros thee says, that is half the success. we need to save the life. >> reporter: at the hospital morgue, the bodies of those saved and those simply dropped off are piling up on the street with no more room inside. all day long, dazed people pour in searching for family or friends. this woman is looking for beatrice, her best friend from school. more patients keep arriving as the race to save them picks up ever so slowly. robert bazell, nbc news, port-au-prince.
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when we come back on "nightly news," americans helping to save the children of haiti as we take a look at members of the 82nd airborne here, setting up camp at the airborne in port-au-prince as part of the relief operations. ♪ switch to allstate, and your new agent will... help tell your old insurance company goodbye. saving you that uncomfortable breakup moment. and serious cash. drivers who switched saved an average of $396 a year. $473 if they dumped geico. breaking up is easy to do. ♪ remember when that's allstate's stand. are you in good hands? ♪
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the americans who even before the earthquake have been trying to help them. here's nbc's ron allen. >> reporter: as soon as mike wilson heard about the earth quake, he raced here from his home in nashville to be with tea. she's almost 5, an orphan, who wilson and his wife are just months from legally adopting and bringing home. but now the quake has put all of that in doubt. >> it's extremely important for us to get her out because we want her to be safe. >> reporter: tea's orphanage was right at the quake's epicenter, badly damaged. she and the other children were evacuated safely. wilson brings her to the airport every day, hoping to be among the thousands able to board a plane out. he says she's confused and afraid by what's been happening but knows from her time in an orphanage that airplanes mean something special. >> he knows that there have been many of her friends who have left with somebody and they've talked about an airplane. >> reporter: the big problem is the adoption has to be approved here in haiti by the courts. however, the court system, like so much else, lies in ruins.
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wilson said u.s. officials have told him there's not much they can do to help. >> got you. >> reporter: for now teshia and the other children live at the oar fathen director's home. like her, many have adopted families in america waiting to bring them home. food and water supplies are day to day. >> it is very urgent. it is an emergency. it is a matter of life and death. >> reporter: dr. jacob berne nard and his wife claudette fear the quake could rob these kids of their chance for a better life. >> in the next few weeks, there can be an epidemic in haiti and the children are the first ones who will be the victims. >> i'm more worried about -- >> reporter: meanwhile, wilson pleads for compassion. a diplomatic, humanitarian gesture that would let tea leave haiti for the united states. >> i'm willing to do anything, sign anything, whatever takes to get her out. reporter: every day they're at the airport hoping to be on
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the next flight out to begin their new life in america together. ron allen, nbc news, port-au-prince. and that's nbc news for this saturday night. i'm lester holt reporting from port-au-prince. i'll be back here tomorrow morning for "today" and then i will be back with you again tomorrow evening. until then, good night, everyone. captions paid for by nbc-universal television -- captions by vitac --


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